The Virtual City Hall: Contactless Counter and Project Delivery Services
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that municipalities and counties develop alternative methods to safely deliver public services to their residents, contractors, and development communities. This white paper will explore current techniques as well as innovative approaches to touchless permit and project service delivery with an eye toward how these techniques will benefit the community after COVID-19 safety restrictions are lifted.
With many cities under lockdown, public safety is paramount and understandably the highest concern for city managers, mayors, and city council members. However, how does an agency keep its virtual doors open for business when it’s not safe to keep the physical doors open? This paper explores digital solutions for services such as permitting, plan checking, inspection, and related services that are necessary for the agency’s economic survival: fees, commercial development, property taxes and transient occupancy taxes. Illustrative figures depict solutions reported by responding agencies in a COVID-19 operations survey conducted in July 2020.
Contactless counter and project delivery services for cities and counties is a concept that has been evolving for many years, long before COVID-19. Agencies with shrinking staff sizes and budgets have seen a need to increase productivity in order to continue providing high-quality capital projects and development review services for private development projects while still maintaining high customer satisfaction.
However, for many agencies, the pandemic has made this a priority in order to ensure capital project delivery and development services continue to provide public infrastructure and private development support to their communities. The benefits of modernizing these services are many, including 24×7 self-service permit and plan check capabilities, reduced plan review turnaround times, and increased staff time to focus on critical tasks while automating routine data processing.
HR Green, a leader in web-based government services and in-person staff augmentation, has been providing engineering, plan checking, planning, code enforcement, and building and safety staffing to agencies small and large in 16 states for more than two decades. Additionally, HR Green’s municipal operations experience, combined with IT systems knowledge, has allowed the company to perform operational reviews and software integration for its client agencies and streamline the approval of public and private development projects.
To gain insight as to how agencies are using technology to cope with closed public counters and project development during COVID-19, HR Green surveyed clients to learn what contactless practices are currently being used or what they would prefer to use. The responses were compared to industry and HR Green best practices. While some agencies indicated they were able to deliver services remotely through cobbled together approaches, the methods being used were not state-of-the-art, allowing for automation and effective customer relationship management that can scale over a sustained period of time. State-of-the-art platforms, when properly implemented by trained professionals with experience in myriad agencies, results in well thought out workflows, customized to your needs, and leads to more efficient service delivery and a better experience for staff and customers.
To access the 14-page white paper with the survey results and actionable approaches, download the full guide above.